Maundy is derived from the Latin word for command. On Maundy Thursday, Thursday of Holy Week, Jesus did many new things. He began the traditional Passover dinner by washing the feet of each of the twelve disciples’ (including Judas). He had never done this before. He also instituted the sacrament of the blood and wine for the first time. He told of a new gift—the Holy Spirit, who would be God’s presence after He leaves. He gave a new commandment. This new commandment was that we should love one another. It is found in John 13:34:
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”
That would be His last day with His disciples. It was the last opportunity for Judas to repent. It was a very meaningful and foundational time of discipleship and sending-off into the next phase of God’s plan. The new plan would involve first them and then you and me—ordinary people, taking God’s love into the world. Jesus used this night to equip these men who had been in training for three years to take the claims of Christ out to the uttermost parts of the world. They were unaware of what was about to take place in just a few hours, but we aren't. They couldn't take it all in at the time, but it is important that we fully embrace what Jesus said and did on Maundy Thursday.
First off, it was no mistake that Jesus’ betrayal would happen on the evening of Passover. This was part of God’s plan from the beginning. The religious leaders decided not to arrest Jesus during the feast (Matthew 26:5), but that was not their decision to make. From the moment that Moses and the children of Israel experienced the first Passover, they were learning an object lesson for this night. This Passover would change all Passover feasts for all time. Just as the people of Israel were delivered from the bondage of slavery, on this night the children of God were delivered from the bondage and oppression of sin. In Christ we have made a spiritual exodus from the stronghold that sin has had over us.
Second, this Passover began with an act of humble regard for others that is the attraction of the Gospel of Christ. Jesus took off His outer garment and carried out the lowliest of tasks, washing each of the disciples’ filthy, dirty feet. Jesus wants us to fully grasp this new commandment. It is through our fearless acts of love that those without Christ will be drawn to Him. In John 13:35 He states,
“By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
After sharing a meaningful meal and teaching them about the good, bad and scary things to come, He told the disciples that they need not fear because the Holy Spirit would be able to come to them. He invited them to practice a new sacrament and taught them how to receive the wine and blood as a remembrance of Him. He let them know that He would not eat of this meal until all work on earth is done and all His true believers are with Him in heaven.
He prayed for Himself, each of the disciples, and also you and me in John 17. They sang together, and then walked in the darkness across the Kidron Valley, awash with blood from the Temple sacrifices, to the Garden of Gethsemane, where He told them to pray.
So much happened, there is not room to write about the conversation of Peter’s denial, Judas’ departure, and more. Take time to read about the intimate dinner Jesus shared with His closest disciples and realize that Jesus longs to be that intimate with you. (Matthew 26:15-46; Mark 14:10-42; Luke 22:7-46; John 13-17)
Note: I’ve written Holy Week Devotions which are available at http://www.pcbc.org/holyweekdevotions if you would like to think about what Jesus did each day of Holy Week. May you have a blessed Holy Week!